Social Justice Poetry

Moles, Voles and Agent Orange | A Social Justice Poem by Donal Mahoney

“You need help in your garden, Grandpa?”

Jack’s only ten and eager to help so I have to say yes. He looks like
Tom Sawyer. Sometimes I think his mother, my daughter, married
Huckleberry Finn, when I look at my grandson. Yet she keeps telling me
he looks like me. I see no resemblance except for the red hair and the
cowlicks. Years ago my hair was red. I’ve still got the cowlicks.

“I heard you got moles and voles so I came over to help. When moles
get hungry, Grandpa, they tunnel for worms. That’s how they kill your
roots and bulbs.”

It sounds like his mother has been coaching him. She probably sent him
over here so she can take a nap. Sometimes it’s nice having them live
nearby. Other times not so good. For all his good intentions, I know
the boy can’t help me with the moles and voles. He even brought his
own shovel.

I’ve been dealing with these pests for months. I think I’ll have to
call in a professional. I’m just afraid the PETA people will show up
some night and steal the traps. Or maybe picket my house. The wife
might join ’em. She thinks the same way as her daughter. They recycle
everything. Sometimes I think I might be the next to go in a bin.

My grandson is on a roll now. He tells me I should send “that stuff
over there back to Monsanto. I’ll dig up the moles and maybe some
voles, too, Grandpa.”

I had some weedkiller sitting around the garage for the longest time
but I had no plans to try it on the moles and voles. His mother must
have seen it when she was here the other day. She hates all chemicals
and pesticides. I’m a little more tolerant. She probably told Jack to
get on me about the weedkiller.

“You don’t need anything from Monsanto, Grandpa. They made Agent
Orange. It’s not for gardens. It kills people.”

I tell him I have weedkiller, not Agent Orange. I haven’t heard
anybody talking about Agent Orange for years. Bad stuff, but that was
a long time ago.

Then, with eyes like stars, Jack announces, “Right now, Grandpa, there
are kids in Viet Nam who can’t smile like you and me. They’re deformed
and they ain’t gonna get any better, thanks to that Agent Orange
stuff. I saw a program about it on television. Ask my mom. She saw it,

So I tell him, “Jack, you can start digging over here. Maybe you’ll
find a mole. I’ll be right back. I’m gonna take the weedkiller back to
the hardware store. Maybe they’ll give me my money back. You work hard
and we’ll go to McDonald’s. Just don’t tell your mother. She doesn’t
like cheeseburgers and French Fries, either.”

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